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Everything you need to know about Robert Durst - the convicted killer at the centre of The Jinx: Part Two

The real estate heir is the subject of the HBO docuseries

Megan Bull
TV Writer
April 22, 2024
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The Jinx: Part Two explores the life and crimes of convicted killer, Robert "Bob" Durst. In the sequel to HBO's 2015 docuseries, over the eight years that have passed, the filmmakers have continued in their investigation, documenting Robert's subsequent arrest, imprisonment and death. 

The Jinx: Part Two – trailer

A key suspect in the unsolved 1982 disappearance of his first wife, Kathleen McCormack, Bob was also linked to the murder of his longtime friend, Susan Berman, in 2000, as well as the 2001 killing and dismemberment of his 71-year-old neighbor Morris Black. With six new episodes premiering weekly, here's what you need to know about the man at the centre of this harrowing series…

Who is Robert "Bob" Durst?

Born in 1943, Robert "Bob" Durst was An American real estate heir. The oldest son of New York developer, Seymour Durst and his socialite wife, Bernice Herstein, Bob grew up with three siblings: Douglas, Tommy and Wendy Durst. In 1950, when Bob was just seven years old, his mother died by suicide. 

According to biographer Matt Birkbeck, a psychiatrist noted that Bob may have had "personality decomposition and possibly even schizophrenia" when he was ten. During his early years, Bob and his brother Douglas were also sent to therapy to deal with their sibling rivalry. 

Robert Durst doing an interview© HBO
Robert Durst was the oldest son of New York developer, Seymour Durst and his socialite wife, Bernice Herstein

After graduating from high school and enrolling at UCLA, Bob decided to drop out and move home to New York, but he wasn't interested in joining the Durst Organization. Bob opened up a health-food store in Vermont instead, but after marrying Kathleen McCormack, and closing the store in 1973, he started working for his father. 

When his brother, Douglas, was chosen to run the Durst Organization in 1992, Bob distanced himself from the family. 

Robert Durst's crimes 

Bob was linked to three horrific crimes. The first was the disappearance and suspected murder of his wife, Kathleen. After marrying on April 12, 1973, the couple moved to Manhattan. Kathleen was a few months away from graduating from medical school when she vanished without a trace. 

Robert Durst in court in 2003© Getty
Robert was first connected to the disappearance of his wife Kathleen in 1982

Kathleen was last seen at a dinner party thrown by her friend Gilberte Najamy on January 31 1982. Friends noted that she was dressed in an unusually casual manner and that she had left the party and headed to her cottage in South Salem after receiving a phone call from her husband.  

Bob maintained that he and Kathleen had fought that night but that he had placed his wife on a commuter train, sending her back to their Manhattan apartment. He also alleged that they spoke on the phone once she got home. 

Robert Durst and wife Kathleen © Sky
Three weeks before she went missing Kathleen had been to hospital with facial injuries

Later that week, Bob reported her missing but during the investigation, it was discovered that Kathleen had been treated for facial injuries at a local hospital three weeks prior and had spoken to a friend about his abusive treatment of her. When she'd asked Bob for a $250,000 divorce settlement, he'd cut her off financially and refused to pay her school tuition. 

Kathleen's body was never found and in 1990, Bob even filed for divorce, claiming spousal abandonment. It wasn't until October 22, 2021, that he would be charged with her death, thanks to his shocking appearance in the 2015 documentary, The Jinx

By 2000, Bob was a suspect in another major investigation – the murder of his long-time friend Susan Berman. The daughter of mafia member, David Berman, the 55-year-old had been shot execution style in her LA home on Christmas Eve. 

Robert Durst with Susan Berman© Sky
Robert pictured with Susan Berman

The investigation revealed that Susan had received $50,000 from Bob prior to her death. He had also been in California around the time of her murder and had jetted back to New York the night before her body was found. Biographers have suggested that Bob killed her for knowing too much about his wife's disappearance. A year later he was arrested, but not for his friend's murder. 

In another shocking development, body parts belonging to Bob's 71-year-old neighbor, Morris Black, were found in Galveston Bay. He was released on bail but after missing a scheduled court hearing, a warrant was issued for his arrest for bail jumping. Caught shoplifting, on November 30 Bob was arrested in Pennsylvania where police discovered $37,000 in cash, Morris Black's driving license, drugs, two guns and directions to Gilberte Najamy's house. 

Tried for his neighbor's murder in 2003, Bob alleged that Morris had threatened him with a gun and was accidentally shot during a struggle. Unfortunately, the jury acquitted Bob of murder on November 11, 2003, owing to a lack of forensic evidence. However, he did serve time in prison for two counts of bail jumping and one count of evidence tampering. 

How was Robert Durst caught for the murders?

Bob may have avoided murder charges initially, but when director Andrew Jarecki made the documentary The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, everything began to change. After agreeing to tell his side of the story, Bob sat down for interviews before taking a bathroom break, forgetting that he still had a microphone attached to his lapel. "There it is: you're caught. What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course," he was heard saying. 

Bob Durst taking a call in prison© HBO
Bob was arrested in New Orleans on March 14, 2015

Bob was arrested in New Orleans on March 14, 2015, a day before the series finale aired. He was convicted for the first-degree murder of Susan Berman on September 17, 2021, and months later, on October 22, he was finally charged with Kathleen's murder.

Sent to prison, Bob died of cardiac arrest on January 10, 2022. He was 78. 

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